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John Hughes Death Spotlights Heart Attack

John Hughes dies of heart attack

It seems that there are some people in his industry that are already planning a lasting memorial, of sorts. The buzz on the internet is that there is talk about doing a movie of John Hughes’ life up to his untimely death from a heart attack. Is this for real? This may be a fitting tribute to the man who gave us “National Lampoon’s Vacation, “The Breakfast Club,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Hughes’ sudden death at a relatively young age is not that uncommon. In fact, heart trouble in men begins to become apparent around age 50. Recently, several well-known men have died of a sudden heart attack, including “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert (age 58), TV hawker Billy Mays (50), and of course, Michael Jackson (50).

Other well-known men in their fifties have survived serious heart trouble, including TV’s Kelsey Grammer of Fraser fame (heart attack at 53) and President Bill Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery when he was 58, when his arteries were 90 percent blocked.

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Baby boomers like John Hughes, Tim Russert, and Billy Mays would do well to heed the controllable risk factors that can predict most heart attacks. Those risk factors, which were identified and reported in the INTER-HEART study, one of the largest and most important studies of its kind ever conducted, are listed here in their order of importance:

* Elevated LDL and low HDL cholesterol levels (low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein)
* Smoking
* Diabetes
* High blood pressure
* Abdominal obesity
* Stress and/or depression
* Failure to eat fruits and vegetables daily
* Failure to exercise
* Failure to drink any alcohol

According to the study’s authors, these nine risk factors are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heart attacks seen in their study population of more than 29,000 individuals. The risk of heart attack for people who have all nine of these factors is nearly 130 times higher than for people who have none of them. How many did John Hughes have? This information may come out shortly. Surely stress was one of them.

When people die of a heart attack at a relatively young age as have John Hughes, Tim Russert, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays, it can be a wakeup call to the rest of the population. Heart attack can be avoided if attention is paid to the controllable risk factors. Is anyone listening?

INTER-HEART study in Lancet April 1, 2006; 367(9516)
Healthcare Quarterly 2005; 8(1): 28
WebMD 6/16/08